Manga-ka: Yuu Watase
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (13+)
Release Date: June 2011
Synopsis: “Hinohara discovers to his horror that his tormentor Kadowaki has followed him to Arata’s world. Recalling his suffering, Hinohara flies into a rage that triggers his transformation into a demonic entity!”
My prayers were answered after the Kadowaki-heavy volume five. He’s considerably less present in this sixth book after Hinohara forces a retreat of the group of opposing Sho. It comes with a price however. We learn that as much power as Hinohara’s weapon has for good, in his hands it still has the capability to cause out of control destruction. For the good of the world he aims to save, Hinohara will need to learn to control that temper, but as readers, it’s fantastic to see him get a chance to vent.
After the fact though, it was hard seeing Hinohara open up about his past bullying to his friends. You can feel how difficult it is for him to admit to people who see him as a strong figure otherwise. On the other hand, it was surprising getting a glimpse of the same scenes from Kadowaki’s perspective. I didn’t expect to see Hinohara act the way he did, which sets a neat (if not a little late) prescedent for the way he flips out when Kadowaki challenges him directly.
Back in our world, Kadowaki had been replaced by his fantasy-world equivalent – a cruel young man who seems to take great joy in his work. Unfortunately his work here is getting Arata out of the way and he wastes no time attacking three students right in front of him. This definitely steps thing up a notch in our world a lot more than I ever thought things would go and I was pleasantly surprised. Obine also bravely steps in to defend Arata, which is another brownie point for her as far I’m concerned. Alas that the story ends on a cliffhanger so we won’t know what comes of it for a few months yet now.
Moving on from their run-in with Kadowaki, Hinohara and crew make their way to the economic-driven town of Suzukura. Here they need to get jobs in order to earn the money required to gain access to the ruling Sho. I liked how this story makes obvious fun of the difficulties of earning good money – you work and work and there’s always some stipulation that takes away huge chunks of your pay. It’s a painful thing indeed to get no where fast. My disappointment with this chapter comes in how obvious the big twist was. Maybe I’ve just read too much manga over the years to fall for something like this, or it was simply a case of knowing Yuu Watase never lets an attractive character design go to waste. Either way, the volume’s climax loses steam from the flopped ‘surprise!’.
The romance between Hinohara and Kotoha is continuing to move forward at its own pace and I actually find myself rooting for them, unlike most of the lead couples present in Yuu Watase’s series. Kotoha keeps trying to hold onto the feelings she has for the Arata she grew up with while also being unable to deny that her feelings are shifting to Hinohara. It’s too bad she’s showing this by acting jealous and snubbing him when he does something she doesn’t like though. Hinohara meanwhile is cutely trying to hide his feelings until he can muster the courgeous to show them more openly instead of just stammering and blushing when opportunities arise.
This sixth volume of Arata coasts nicely off the intensity of the previous book before sliding back to its usual pace. I’m finding myself getting tired of the Sho fetch-quest Hinohara and his group are on, especially when it lacks the linearity to tell us exactly when it’ll be over. It’s great to see things ramp up in the present-day world though, even if it does spell lots of trouble for those there. Much as I like the characters currently traversing the fantasy world, and seeing what kind of people they’ll meet up with, it’s Arata and Oribe facing magic in Hinohara’s high school that I’m most eager to read more about.
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Book provided by Viz Media for review purposes